"Dark Ballet" is a monologue told from the point of view of the French heroine Joan of Arc.
I will not denounce the things that I have said
I will not renounce my faith in my sweet Lord
He has chosen me to fight against the English
And I'm not afraid at all to die 'cause I believe him
Joan of Arc believed she had a divine call to recover France from English domination during the Hundred Years' War.
The Maid of Orléans is a particular hero of Madonna. She previously sung of her on the Rebel Heart
track "Joan Of Arc
Mirwais produced the track. The French producer previously worked with Madonna on her Music
and American Life
albums. This song is their first collaboration since 2005's "Future Lovers
The song is set to an electronic arrangement of Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Reed-Flutes" from the Russian composer's 1892 classical work The Nutcracker Suite
The song's epic six-minute video stars queer hip-hop artist Mykki Blanco as Joan Of Arc. Directed by Dutch-Ghanaian filmmaker Emmanuel Adjei, the clip follows the path to his execution. Madonna is seen briefly in the visual, offering Blanco encouragement as he is led from his cell.
Madonna said of the song and video: "Joan Of Arc fought the English and she won, still the French were not happy. Still they judged her. They said she was a man, they said she was a lesbian, they said she was a witch, and, in the end, they burned her at the stake, and she feared nothing. I admire that."
Madonna's children, Stelle and Estere, are the ones making the wind sounds at the end of the song. The noise they make signifies blowing into the fire that consumed Joan of Arc.
Madonna described the song to Mojo as "an amalgamation of a lot of different things, from Tchaikovsky to Clockwork Orange to Joan of Arc."
She added that the epic track wasn't planned but was a spur-of-the-moment idea. "Mirwais played the piano solo and then I started thinking about Joan of Arc burning at the stake," Madonna explained. "I don't know why - it just happened. And that's how we inspire each other."
Madonna described the vocoder section as being like Joan of Arc's manifesto. In this part, the French heroine is saying "she will not give in and she will not bow down to fear and she will not apologize for what she said and she is willing to die for what she believes in."
Joan of Arc was the first freedom fighter Madonna learned about. The Queen of Pop explained that she "can relate to her because I do fight for what I believe in. And when you fight for what you believe in, there's always going to be a punishment waiting for you, sometimes big and sometimes small."